Blessings from Above

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lord

What a pleasant surprise when our next door neighbor

Joined my husband and me on the back porch,

His face beaming, pen, and paper in hand.

Sitting in the rocker across from us, and as if

The words could hardly wait to jump out of his mouth

He pronounced, “Okay. This is what we’re going to do . . .”

And true to his word, the very next day

Two, happy-faced fellows from his church

Bravely crawled under our house with the bugs

And cobwebs and spiders and snake skins

And replaced our broken down leaky water heater

With a brand spanking new one. Paid in full!

We are still speechless, Lord.

Only you know how truly grateful we are

To you and our neighbor and his church

And the two young men who donated

Their valuable time to help us in our time of need.

It’s no surprise, coming from you,

But we’re accustomed to helping others

And not the other way around.

And you know how I despise being the one in need.

But this time, you tied my hands behind my back

opened my eyes and helped me to see the blessing

Your people received from you by obediently helping us.

The pond in our front yard is slowly drying up

And we now have the hottest water we’ve had in weeks.

Thank you, Lord, for always being faithful to your Word

And for putting people in our lives who are willing

To be your feet and hands to shower us

With blessings from above.

 

 

The Truth Will Set You Free!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seek to live in my love, which covers a multitude of sins:
both yours and others’ . . .

You always know, Lord
The words I need to hear when I need to hear them;
Especially this morning as I look back
And see how hard and foolishly I labored to cover up my ugly flaws.
As a child, I remember soaking cucumber peelings in cold water
And putting them on my face to bleach out my freckles.
I remember how it hurt pinching the end of my nose with a clothespin
In high hopes of making it smaller.
When I was finally allowed, I drew on some eyebrows,
Painted my eyelashes, and smeared makeup on my face.
Everything in my world had to be perfect:
My dolls. My shoes. My roller skates. My performance . . .
I wish someone had taken the time to lead me in the right direction
Before my twisted brain told me I had to be perfect to be loved;
That the world around me doesn’t accept rejects.
I wish Someone had spoken the truth about God and His unconditional love
Before I conjured up a false face, stuffed my sensitive feelings deep inside
And wore a neon sign around my neck that shouted to the world:
Cut me, I won’t bleed!
I was young, naïve, and a Christian.
And Christians have a whole different set of rules
From the rest of the world to follow.
Christians are slow to anger,
Quick to forgive and never ever question God.
Christians turn the other cheek,
Shake the dust off their feet and suffer in silence.
Christians love their enemies and bless those who curse them.
But what my delicate ears heard was:
Christians are not human.
They never mess up.
Never get angry, never tell anyone what they really think and mean.
Christians bury their hurts, anger, and disappointments deep inside,
Let it fester and blow up in their face one day, make them lose complete control,
And forget to be careful little tongue what they say.
Christians let shame and regret scream in their ears what a failure they are,
That God is terribly disappointed and sorry He ever created them.
Christians let their failure to be perfect cast them into the arms of depression
Self-loathing and hopelessness.
At least that’s the time bomb of belief’s that blew up and shattered my world . . .
Tired of living a lie and what it was doing to me,
I sent God a whirling smoke signal of distress.
He came to my rescue, and ever so slowly and gently,
He opened my eyes to His love, His truth,
His footprints across the blazing desert of life.
He released my heavy armor of perfectionism.
He covered my naked, trembling body with his cloak of righteousness.
He bathed my tarnished heart in His forgiveness.
He lifted the world of guilt and shame off my shoulders.
He told me that I don’t have to be perfect for Him to love me,
That it is fruitless to even try.
He told me that He created me in His image,
That I am the apple of His eye,
That all the wrong in my life He can fix and make it right . . .
He’s been my daily, faithful guide ever since.
We have coffee together on the back porch.
We have long intimate talks together.
We walk together, laugh together, cry together.
But what I love the most about this amazing relationship
Is that I can lean back, kick off my shoes, and just be me!

Adios!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pain
You are no friend of mine
I don’t even like you
Why are you picking on this little old lady
You big bully
Shame on you
You plunged a knife into my back
You gripped my heart with fear
You made me cry then you laughed in my face
You watered down my painkillers
You stole my joy
My blissful moments on the back porch
With my husband
With my dog
With God
You poisoned my morning coffee
You deafened my ears to solace
You blinded my eyes to hope
You exposed my fragility
My nakedness
My pride
You nailed me to a splintered cross of agony and defeat
Well
The party’s over
You’ve had your fun
But you don’t own me
People are praying for me
God is helping me
And I feel you ebbing away
But before you go I want to thank you
For showing me that I am stronger than I thought
And that no matter how big you may think you are
My God is bigger
My faith is deeper
My hope is higher
So
Get along from whence you came
You’re cramping my style
I have a life to live
Grandbabies and great grandbabies to hold
Places to go and people to see
And you’re not welcome to tag along
So adios my torturous foe
And may we never meet again!

Dee Dee Voltron

voltron

When I’m jogging I’m thinking. Thinking about the good old days. Thinking about the movie I watched last night. Thinking about soaking my feet when I get home. Thinking, thinking, thinking. Sometimes I’m in such deep thought that I can’t remember jogging up the hill I just came down. Now that’s scary!

Today I thought about Brandon, my first grandchild and how he picked out names to call all his grandparents, except for me. For some reason, he couldn’t decide on a name for me. Maybe, because I was the youngest, in his mind I didn’t fit the typical granny image. Maybe he just couldn’t figure me out, I don’t know. Whatever his reasons, he didn’t have an endearing, grandmotherly name for me.

Then, one Sunday afternoon my daughter-in-law smiled and said, “Brandon’s picked out a name for you. It’s Dee Dee. He was trying to say Sandi but it came out Dee Dee instead.”

“Well okay then. Dee Dee, it is.”

Brandon loved for me to tell him stories. In the car, at the mall, in the grocery store, on the porch swing . . . everywhere! All I’d hear is,”Tell me a story, Dee Dee! Tell me a story!”

Now, there’s just so many stories a granny can make up about the two of us riding on Mrs. Eagle’s back over the highest mountains or talking to Mr. Tree in the enchanted forest or creeping into a really dark, really spooky house deep in the woods. But if I didn’t make up something he’d drive me crazy until I did. That’s the way it works for those of you who haven’t figured it out yet. 

His most favorite story was when the two of us teamed up with Voltron and battled all the bad guys. We’d wield our shiny swords, conjure up our magic powers and fight till the bitter end. Then, we’d crawl into a cave where we’d regroup and strategize our next sneak attack.

 Suddenly, in Brandon’s eyes, Voltron was no longer a plastic action figure. Voltron was me, his hero, the one who came to his rescue, who bandaged his wounds and killed all the bad guys. Never again would I be just plain old Dee Dee. I was Immortal. I was invincible. I was Dee Dee Voltron!

And after all those battles I had to fight, and all those stories I had to conjure up, I earned that title and wore it well . . . at least in Brandon’s eyes.

Brandon’s now grown with a family of his own. And, although he no longer begs me to tell him stories, he remembers them all so well and still fondly refers to me as “Dee Dee Voltron!”

Mary’s Little Lamb

Mary had a little Lamb

His heart was pure as gold

And everywhere that Mary went

Her Lamb was sure to go

Then before her very eyes

Her little Lamb grew up

The hour had come to make the climb

And drink His bitter cup

How Mary mourned for her little Lamb

She once cradled in her arms

And kissed away His hurts and fears

And protected Him from harm

In her heart she always knew

Her Lamb was born to die

To save the wretched world from sin

And give it eternal life

~ Sandi

Never Give Up!

Every Halloween the supermarket where mom shopped in Newark, Delaware held a contest. The store manager challenged local school kids to draw scary Halloween pictures on the store windows using soap. There could only be two winners, a girl, and a boy, and the grand prize was a spanking new bike for each one.

I entered the contest, not because I was a great artist, and surely not because I was overflowing with confidence. Quite the contrary. I dabbled in art as an outlet. And I was so shy and timid that I rarely participated in group activities. I felt more like an outsider than a member of the human race.

But a million times more than I was afraid, I wanted that bike.

My brothers did a number on my old, rickety bike. Every time I’d go to ride it I’d find the seat missing, or the handlebars or fenders. One day the chain was missing. Not gonna happen if I win that new bike. They’ll be lucky if they even get to look at it!

With paper and pencil in hand, I knelt on the living room floor and leaning against the big round coffee table that daddy made, I sketched the best picture a thirteen-year-old could conjure up. Little did I know that I was making lasting impressions on the beautiful pine table. All I thought about was winning that bike.

It was freezing cold and dark, except for the lights outside the store and parking lot. Like a tiny mouse, I stood before the stark, towering window, wondering what I had gotten myself into. Ignoring my doubts and chattering teeth, I removed my glove, picked up the bar of soap and began my masterpiece.

Giggles and laughter pierced the night, warming my spirits and coaxing me through the bitter cold.

About an hour into my drawing, my fingers were so numb I could barely feel the soap. Most of the other contestants were finished and horsing around and scribbling on each others windows, being totally annoying. But I wanted that bike. And I wasn’t going to quit if it took me all night long to finish. Stealing a glance at the boy to my right, his face etched with determination, I knew he wasn’t going to quit either.

Several hours later, I was finally finished. Much to my relief, mom and daddy had arrived, and feeling like the abominable snowman, I climbed into the toasty warm car, wondering if I’d ever thaw out.

The day finally arrived. On the way to the supermarket, my heart pounded with anticipation wondering what the next few hours would bring. With mom and daddy by my side, we stood shivering in the parking lot, anxiously waiting to hear the winners names announced. The sun was shining. The growing crowd was buzzing. And I was dreaming of riding my new bike.

Finally, a tall, slender man walked to the podium. I couldn’t tell you what he was wearing, if he was bald or what color his eyes were. But I can tell you his voice was that of an angel when he heralded through the microphone, “Sandra Baylis! Come and receive your new bike!”

I could have kissed a frog that day!

As daddy carefully secured my shiny blue bike in the trunk, I noticed a boy pushing his shiny new red bike. The same boy who was persistently drawing at my right.

When mom told me that I didn’t win because my picture was the best, but because of  my persistence, I was not discouraged. I was not crushed. I was empowered with the knowledge that, in spite of my weaknesses, I have a strong determination to reach my goals if I don’t give up.

My message to you is, never give up. Believe in yourself. And when the going gets rough . . . keep going.

~ Sandi

 

 

The Old Woman in the Mirror

My mother would tell me, “Don’t get old, Sandi. It’s not any fun.” And as usual, I didn’t listen to her. So here I am. I look in the mirror and don’t know who the heck that old woman is or what she did with my red hair and freckles. She was so sneaky about it too, sprinkling a few grey hairs here, lots of wrinkles there, and a bunch of other stuff I’d rather not talk about.

But I thank God every day that He has allowed me to hang around this long, and that no matter how scary old age is, He promises to walk with me every step of the way, to calm my fears, and to love and protect me from harm. And when I take my last breath on this earth, He will take me to my eternal home in Heaven where old age is not allowed! In that, I find hope, peace and comfort.

~Sandi

The Fleeting of Time

Like liquid gold you pour through my bedroom window, tossing sunbeams playfully against the wall. Kicking back the covers, I jump out of bed, determined to keep up with you today.

My morning coffee urges me outside.

To sit on the deck.

To watch the birds.

To feel your warm, gentle breeze.

To capture your tender, fleeting moments.

It seemed, that as a child sitting behind a rickety old school desk, you shuffled along like an old man. And I felt bored and restless and wishing you would hurry up so I could go home and play.

And at the work place I was always daydreaming.

Always hoping for a better tomorrow.

Always hurrying you along.

But, that was a long time ago.

When I thought I had you locked  in a box.

When I Thought I was forever in control.

Now, it seems you barely peep your blazing head above the horizon when you’re pulling down the dark shade of night. When, like a fleeting bird, you fly and disappear into the abyss, never to be seen again.

And I realize that you hold the key to the box.

That I must never again take you for granted.

That I must grasp your every fleeting moment for as long as I shall live.

~ Sandi

Dead Heart Beating

Dead Heart BeatingGazing into the starry night, the Creator smiled. “Not a star out of place,” He mused. “And the moon is right where I placed it, beaming down in all its glory across the glassy sea.” As He strolled beneath the canopy of trees, the leaves clapped joyously, their mighty branches lifted toward heaven in praise. Even the rocks and hills cried out in honor and worship to Him. But something was missing. Something not yet created. Something in His own image.

So, like a potter, He scooped up a handful of clay and began His laborious task. Around the clock He labored, His skillful hands intricately shaping the clay. Finished at last, He breathed into the figure’s nostrils and the lifeless form became a living being.

Like a child at play, Heart skipped across the rolling hills, chasing butterflies and climbing trees and basking in the sun. She talked and laughed with her Creator, learning much about the one and only God in her life. She could never imagine her life without Him.

One sunny morning, Heart wandered farther than usual, skipping through the forest, oblivious to the dangers ahead. Suddenly, she approached an iron gate, vaguely remembering God’s warning about it. Mesmerized by its towering magnificence, she was not aware that Evil was lurking in the shadows.

Now, Evil was handsome and charming, with black, wavy hair, pearly white teeth, and a thin mustache above his ruby-red lips. His eyes, like emeralds, gleamed beneath his ebony brows, concealing the evil within. Captivated by his dimpled smile, Heart clung to his every word as they slid off his tongue like silk.

“I suppose you’re wondering what’s on the other side of the gate,” he said teasingly.

“Well . . . I guess so,” Heart stammered. “I really shouldn’t be here. God warned me about this gate. He said if I enter through it, I will die.”

“Die!” Evil laughed. “Now, that’s a good one. You won’t die, dear Heart. God knows that when you walk through the gate, your eyes will be opened, and you’ll be like God, knowing good and evil. If you ask me, you’ve been duped.”

“God lied to me?” Heart questioned.

“Well,” Evil said, his smile becoming a sinister grin, “Since I’m the only one here with a key, come see for yourself!”

Something deep in Heart told her this wasn’t right; that Evil was not what he appeared to be. Still, she wanted to see for herself. Maybe the Creator’s been holding out on her and life is even more splendid on the other side of the gate.

Abandoning everything she ever knew and loved and trusted, Heart followed a complete stranger through the gate and down a steep, narrow path that seemed to lead nowhere. Faster and faster Evil ran, leaving Heart breathlessly far behind.

“Slow down!” Heart panted. “I can’t keep up and I don’t know where we’re going!”

“That’s your problem now, fool! Evil shouted over his shoulder. And in a flash he was gone, his laughter trailing behind like a madman.

Frightened and confused, Heart staggered along the barren path clutching her chest and crying, “What have I done? What have I done?” But she knew. Of her own free will, she chose a lie over the truth, and with one careless jerk, she ripped her heart from God.

Life was hard for Heart, trying to survive in a harsh, cruel world without hope, without peace, without love and protection. Not a day went by that she didn’t cry for mercy, that she didn’t wish she was dreaming, that she hadn’t fallen into Evil’s deadly trap. But the wondrous life she once knew is gone, forever lost in a moment of enticement and disobedience. For Heart, there is no mercy, no forgiveness, no second chances for the mess she made of her life. Just like the Creator warned her, Heart had met her deadly fate. Day by day, bit by bit her life was hopelessly ebbing away.

And there, in the deepest pit of grief and despair, Heart met a Man. Maybe it was the twinkle in His eyes, or the love in His voice that reminded her of her Creator. Whatever it was, His mere presence gave her hope.

“You’ve got a nasty wound there I see,” the Man said with compassion.

Shamefully, Heart hung her head and whispered tearfully, “I know. I’ve doctored it myself, but the infection only gets worse. I can’t fix it and don’t know anyone who can.

The Man smiled, remembering each moment He spent creating her. Now, as her redeemer He comes to her through His crucified, resurrected Son, Jesus Christ.

“I can heal your wound,” Jesus said.

“You can?” Heart asked, her eyes gleaming with joy.” How?”

“Just trust and believe.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it. Do you trust Me?”

Remembering what she had before she threw it all away and wanting it back again, Heart cried,”Yes!” With all my heart I trust you!”

Tenderly, Jesus pressed Heart against His chest, joyful to have her in His arms again. And from the crimson fountain of His own throbbing heart, He forgave her, washed her clean, healed her deadly wound and gave her everlasting life.

Now, Heart is happy as she laughs and talks with her Creator, ever learning about the One and only God in her life.

“The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

“For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life” (Psalm 56:13).

~ Sandi